Health Professionals across the globe attracted to Hamilton

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Hamilton has a lot to celebrate when it comes to health care, and like Hamilton’s many other success, it all boils down to people. At its heart is a long standing effort and tradition of research, teaching, and most importantly delivering world- class patient care. This translates into exceptional hospital programs – among the best stroke outcomes in Ontario, highest volume cardiac surgery in Ontario, most daily chemotherapy in Ontario, 1 of 2 burn units, 1 of 3 stem cell transplant programs, fastest growing and second largest children’s hospital in Ontario – to name a few.The result being the critical mass required for centres of excellence that attract public and private sector investment, including IBM’s innovation centre, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology. Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) research enterprise is now the fourth largest in Canada.

“The potential for economic development is huge because the best researchers get the most research dollars, and Hamilton Health Sciences is among the top in attracting private sector investments,” says Aaron Levo,Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, Hamilton Health Sciences.

Dr. Richard McLean, Chief Medical Executive at Hamilton Health Sciences, explains how this came about, and how they continue to attract the best international talent: “Our organization has developed a critical mass that supports academics by bringing complex cases together in one area so that clinicians can be more effective.

Our secret is the partnering between the hospital and university, along with our central mass of researchers.We’re building our reputation for doing clinical trials in partnership with industry in a very rigorous way.”

The Academic Practice Certificate of Registration through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario plays a significant role, with McMaster University one of six qualifying institutions in Ontario. Physicians require a medical degree from an acceptable international medical school, and a full-time teaching or a full-time research appointment at an accredited medical school in Ontario at the rank of full or associate professor.

As part of his role, Dr. McLean is actively involved in recruiting Heads of Departments like Dr. Michael Stacey, who was appointed Surgeon-in-Chief for Hamilton Health Sciences in 2014, building on over 25 years of experience as a leading surgeon, researcher, professor, and physician in Australia.

“When I started looking at positions here there was one open at HHS and McMaster and the appeal of the combined connection and the opportunity it provided was a strong motivator for me. McMaster is internationally renowned for its clinical and research standards,” says Dr. Stacey. “When I came for the interviews, I was surprised with the people I met, both clinicians and administration, and their approach to delivering good health care.”

Dr. Stacey is the founding Chairman of the World Union of Wound Healing Societies with a research interests in wound healing in venous leg ulcers and the prevention of ulcers in individuals with spinal cord injury. Since his arrival he has developed a research committee for the Canadian Chapter of the World Union of Wound Healing Societies and was co-convener of their latest annual conference. Dr. Stacey cites a number of reasons for choosing Hamilton over other opportunities and communities beginning with family, career prospects, and of course the geography.

“Industry is interested to get involved in wound healing in regard to treatments. I could do that in Australia but with more difficulty, so for me having that contact and access to industry was another attractive feature,” says Dr. Stacey.“As a city, Hamilton has these hidden, very good parts and geographically with the trails and escarpment, you’re close to the ‘bush’ as we call it in Australia. For me it’s been a good move.”

More recently, cardiologist Dr. David Conen has been recruited to St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, and is a researcher with the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), a partnership between Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University. He moved
to Hamilton two months ago from University Hospital Basel in Switzerland with his wife and two children.

“We’ve been welcomed very warmly and like the Canadian hospitality. My work was the main reason for the move, but my family came for a two week vacation to see whether we liked the area. So the beautiful nature trails and bike paths were all part of our decision,” says Dr. Conen. Adding “this combination of clinical work and research was a pre-requisite to come to Canada.The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario have a licencing program that was very helpful in the decision, not having to redo my exams all over again.”